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Toth

Video Games - Sequels of Dread and Anticipation

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23 pages on the last thread, so I thought I should make the first step opening up the new thread. I chose this thread because I read this morning that the rumors of a new Star Wars KotoR game seem to get all but confirmed, but people remain skeptical about whether it could actually be good.

So... the discussions last week about Bethesda open world games in addition to me listening to Skyrim and Oblivion ambience music while working and trying to wander around the neighborhood as some kind of minimum workout... seem to have successfully make me weak. I bought... Fallout 4, which was until recently on sale. I am stumped how old the game already is, I thought it was a rather new entry, but oh well.

So... well... yes, it's a very addictive game, exploring is fun and the settlement building is triggering my OCD. I have to find that detective that could maybe help find my son? Ah sorry, I'm busy because these two dudes I stumbled upon in the middle of fucking nowhere don't have water supply and lack proper defenses, so I've got to do that first. Yeah, in typical Bethesda fashion the main quest is in that strange spot of feeling super urgent, but the distractions everywhere keep you occupied. But the worst part is... ages ago I watched a video from someone about Bethesda's handling of the worldbuilding and I really can't unsee the truth in that argument: Why the fuck does everybody live in trash? This is 200 years after the nukes fell. Fallout 1 and 2 have established that by now not only new cities have been built, but whole nations formed on the West Coast. And yet here at the East Coast people are wallowing helplessly in rubble, with there only being two major hubs in the entirety of the Boston area, with one in a baseball stadium and the other one being just a single old Boston city block that I haven't found yet despite the map feeling extremely small. That's something that already plagued Fallout 3, but there at least it came with the excuse of the DC area having been nuked to kingdom come in a way few other places were. Also the ruins at least as far as I can remember looked absolutely desolate and mostly picked clean. But in Fallout 4? The place is trashed, but still filled with a ludicrous amount of loot that severely breaks my immersion. Like... these people lived in piles of garbage for the last 200 years and yet never picked any of it up? For real?

I feel like there is a weird thematic dissonance here that could have been easily resolved by having Fallout 4 take place simultaneously to Fallout 1. The theme of the game is rebuilding society out of the ashes, that's what the whole super optimistic settlement mechanic is about (can't say much about the main quest yet for obvious reasons, other than what I've picked up so far is a super lazy Bladerunner rip-off). So why not have the game take place in a timeframe where it makes the most thematic sense for people to rebuild society amongst the still mostly untouched ruins of Boston? Because it doesn't make sense that people are starting just now. Heck, the game itself acknowledges that by having Preston tell you that the Minutemen used to be a notable power and had lots of settlements under their protection. Except... there are none in the game as far as I can tell! So even if the game gives you the shallow justification that the state of the area is so miserable because shadowy forces like the Institute keep people down, then why am I not finding abandoned  newer cities? There is literally nothing in the game indicating Preston's claim that the Boston area had ever seen a massive attempt at renovation that went to hell. Actually this would make the world a lot more interesting to explore: What if the city of Boston had been rebuilt as a major city, but the fracturing and the onslaught of hostiles caused people to give up most of the city and huddle together in Diamond city for protection? Then you can explore abandoned ruins, but the stuff there is not 200 years old and you find signs everywhere of people rebuilding and then being forced to flee or get killed. But I guess that's not possible because I notice the writers of the game are a lot more interested in exploring pre-war America than exploring the Wasteland, which is a shame.

There is also another gripe that I have: I was... shocked, to say the least, that all other Vault residents who were frozen alongside me were killed for little reason. Resettling your old hometown as the first thing in the game brings a nice touch of heartache, but it seemed strange to do that with a bunch of random strangers that you were supposed to feel attached to all of a sudden. It kinda rail-roaded you into siding with the Minutemen early on and spend a considerable amount of time building settlements for them if you aren't an ass that likes to leave them starving. Given how desperately I ran around the Vault interacting with every cryo capsule and all the diagnosis terminals desperately hoping to find any survivors made me think that I felt like my character should have been more attached to his neighbors. In fact it's a little jarring to be roped into helping Preston without even giving me room to actually voice my background or confusion about the world (the PC didn't even seem fazed when offered some caps as a reward... like that should be a really odd reward, wouldn't it?). My alternate take on this would have been that you wake up alongside all the other frozen people and only your wife is dead and your child taken. Make the first settlement that you found in your old suburb populated by the vault dwellers, the very people who lived there before, as they adjust to this hostile new world and have to adapt and choose allies in the different factions of the wasteland. That would have been super cool and immersive and you wouldn't feel so railroaded as your fellow vault dwellers are basically just an extension of you since you are all essentially sitting in the same boat. You are not just some guy sticking with whatever faction you encounter first, but you are a faction in its own right and you'll make damn sure that your mark on the wasteland is yours. This would actually also somewhat soften the urgency of this whole "find your missing family member" nonsense that they already pulled in Fallout 3. Shaun's disappearance is your personal tragedy, but you are not on your own and have a responsibility ensuring the survival of your friends and neighbors, so there are more immediate concerns that need to be dealt with before you are allowed to head out for a wild goose chase.

Another missed opportunity I noticed is how... ludicrously little use is made out of roleplaying aspects. I made the mistake of creating a charisma and intelligence heavy character to see whether I could talk myself out of most situations. Instead I should have made a strength-heavy character to carry more loot. -.- For real, 90% of times when you get a speech check option in dialogue it's just to extort more money from quest givers. And even when they bothered to actually give you an extended quest (Diamond City Blues) that allows you several creative ways to resolve the situation... it just... breaks. Like... I think I solved the quest in the best possible way by having the sleazy mobster bar owner leave the town without killing him and yet everyone involved in the quest treats me as if I just murdered him and yet my quest giver angrily tells me I ruined his life whenever I pass him in the streets. I... think a few flags got set wrong there... Probably during the mobster shootout outside the city that my character got oddly roped in into with no connection to the initial quest whatsoever. I killed one character without talking to him (the wiki notes I should have, even though it wouldn't make sense for the ambush idea and would have made diving for cover damn near impossible) and another one I spared got randomly shot as she was backing off. On a related note: Why make so little out of the background of your character? The opening sequence mentioned that the male player character is a war veteran and the female player character is a lawyer. So it makes perfect sense that the game feels a lot more shooty than the previous installments (for the male character), in fact I'd argue the fact that the character can now use power armor without acquiring special training makes perfect sense in that regard (I actually love the idea to make power armor very resource intensive to use and make you judge for every quest whether it makes sense to take it with you or not, instead of being just generic high-level gear that doesn't work any differently to any other gear except some arbitrary perk that you have or have not... or at least I would like to say that if my level 15 character hasn't already collected 5 sets of the stuff, with three of them coming with a working frame. This is the Oblivion effect of random bandits running around in full Daedric or Glass armor on speed). Long story short: Why not incorporate that into different starting conditions. Give the male character starting perks related to weapon and armor use, while female characters gets speech and leadership perks that allow her to build a higher-tier settlement right away. The justification for that is already there!

One last grumble: Why do my hand crafted settlements also look like piles of garbage hastily nailed together? Even the horribly expensive concrete buildings look more like bombed out pre-war buildings than stuff you just built from scratch. If I spend most of my time so far trying to give everyone I meet some shelter, I want it to look like an actual town where people can live instead of just survive wallowing in garbage... And I found a neat place called "Starlight Drive-In". Being a drive-in cinema is mostly just an extremely large flat parking lot with pond in the middle you can extract water from. I feel like I should get a mod that allows you to build actual solid buildings and make a proper city out of it.

Okay... that was a whole lot of text. XD The game mechanics are fun and strangely addictive, but... the world just feels so shallow and unbelievable. Like that quote from that video I watched said: "Bethesda seems more interested in creating rubble-themed shooting galleries" than fleshing out the world. And that's just sad...

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Yeah, roleplaying is not Fallout 4's thing. If you want a more hardcore roleplaying game where speech is hugely important, you play New Vegas.

The crafted settlements still looking like crap is also a major annoyance, but I found the Vault-Tec add-on for FO4 hugely helped with that. You can build the Vault rooms above ground as well and they look sleek and modern and cool, rather than building constant tin shacks.

The KotOR rumours are interesting but weird. The mentioned budget ($70 million) is too low for a ground up, brand-new AAA Star Wars game, but it feels too high for a simple remaster of KotOR. Also, I think a remaster is not really a goer: the two KotOR are pretty old now (seventeen and eighteen years) and I don't think modern gamers would be down with its automated combat, sticky movement and small hubs.

A total, ground-up remake and rebuild of KotOR, complete with new systems and new dialogue (which is why they need new designers), feels like it could fit in that band more effectively. Aspyr don't have an internal development studio though and setting one up specially for KotOR, given how tight Lucasfilm are with the licence, feels unconvincing. Possible, sure, but it's a puzzle why they'd do that and not go with a proven studio.

Edited by Werthead

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I'm currently playing Ni No Kuni 2. Great game but I prefer the first one. The kingdom building part is a cool addition to the series.

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I enjoyed Fallout 4, but I never could get into the settlements - even with mods, I found the UI to be so clunky that it didn't feel worth my time, even though I know you can do really cool things with it. Combine that with the lack of role-playing and I don't think it's a game I'll ever revisit, even though I enjoyed the main story more than many and thought they did an incredible job creating post-apocalyptic Boston.

On the other hand, I have a friend who loves the settlement-building and playing on survival mode, essentially turning it into a survival game. If you enjoy that kind of thing I could see why you could get a lot of hours out of Fallout 4.

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I mean, generally I find the settlement building extremely fun, though building on uneven ground is a pain in the ass and I hate that you have to purposefully use glitches to get anything remotely good-looking done. I tried to surround Sanctuary Hills with a fence for protection, but halfway through the ground dropped and suddenly I had a 20 meter segment blatantly hovering in the air. I tore down the fence again and never made a second attempt. On the other hand yesterday night I spent an hour or so constructing a mess hall for my settlers, going as far as grabbing a radio and a TV from one of the ruins, though I was annoyed to learn that I couldn't take any of the fridges. Also Jezebel from the Automatron DLC happened to become the cook. I think that should make me worried about the lethality of the food...

Amusingly I also now found Goodneighbor. And... well... I only visited the first two shops, so I haven't seen anything yet, but... Why is there not a pre-war Ghoul love-interest? I have a feeling my character would hang out the whole day with Daisy and her interaction was the first time where I actually felt like playing Nate, the time-displaced pre-war dude clinging to the only other person who shares memories of the world he lost, instead of just faceless action hero dude who is shooting lots of people. Why not more of that? In fact I just now stumbled across a comment on Reddit with someone saying that in the entire bloody game there are only two instances where the player character's background makes him tell people of the past: Daisy's encounter and when berating the nutty swatter vendor in Diamond City. What the hell? Even the dialogue option with Preston after the tutorial was more like "Btw, I was frozen in time in that vault" - "Ah shit, sorry man. But let's move on."

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Survival mode is the most fun I had in Fallout 4. It feels like the real way to play the game, because a lot of the mechanics like eating and drinking seem pointless otherwise.

Playing the game as someone who could get killed at any moment  really makes you engross yourself in the world. Otherwise the whole game feels really empty. 
 

Mainly it’s because the RPG elements are rubbish, because the game forces you to play a certain character, with a certain voice.. and a tiny amount of speech options.

As for settlement building, there are plenty of videos out there of amazing looking towns people have built using all the settlement creator. If you are very creative you can do some brilliant things.

Mine always look like trash blocks though

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Finishing up Vice City. It's aged mostly well, apart from a few curious AI oddities, like the police trying to stop your out-of-control crime spree by deploying spike strips...when you're flying above them in an Apache helicopter.

Probably take a break for something completely different before revisiting San Andreas. Might try out Offworld Trading Company for a bit.

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2 hours ago, Red Tiger said:

Eh, I say if you want Miranda buttshots, just watch them on Youtube or play the original.

If I can’t get Miranda’s ass in 4K... cancel my preorder!

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22 hours ago, Heartofice said:

Mainly it’s because the RPG elements are rubbish, because the game forces you to play a certain character, with a certain voice.. and a tiny amount of speech options.

That's exactly my problem. I feel like the game is stuck between the two ideas of the player character being whatever you want him to be or being Nate/Nora, the time-displaced fish out of the water and hilariously fails at doing both. You have absolutely no choice in dialogues (Yes, Yes, Sarcastic yes, Maybe later) so you end up getting railroaded by whatever faction you encounter. On the other hand you never feel like Nate is ever more than the generic shooter guy killing lots of people, what with there being so ridiculously little meaningful conversations that didn't just hand out the next fetch quest that is indistinguishable from any randomized Daggerfall quest (which is indeed the Bethesda game I'm getting the most reminded of playing Fallout 4 because of the amount of random quests sending you to random locations).

Amusingly yesterday I looked up the announcement trailers for Fallout 3 and Fallout 76 for comparison. It... feels like there is indeed a veeeery slight shift in priorities that happened for Bethesda. Maybe you can spot it, if you are very careful:

 

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Offworld Trading Company is splendid. Someone called it a strategy game if a strategy game could be Street Fighter II. It's a fast, brutal RTS except you never build any military units or fight: it's a mad scramble for resources and a demented war of asset-seizing and cash-raising before a hostile takeover. It's weirdly satisfying. I also like the fact that most scenarios are over in under an hour, at least not until you're well into the game.

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The team at Supergiant on getting Hades across the launch threshold under difficult circumstances, and their reaction to the reaction.

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On 2/5/2021 at 10:30 AM, Werthead said:

I don't think modern gamers would be down with its automated combat, sticky movement and small hubs.

I only got to KOTOR 1/2 a few years ago and I thought they were...OK? They were both of them very console-specific in design, which required me to wrap my brain around an interface that doth not careth for my mouse, but otherwise, it wasn't too bad? At least it didn't feature infinite amounts of scrolling like I've read about in more modern games like Cyberpunk (and Skyrim pre- SkyUI).

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On 2/6/2021 at 2:51 AM, Rhom said:

If I can’t get Miranda’s ass in 4K... cancel my preorder!

Ah, I see you are a man of culture as well.

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12 hours ago, IlyaP said:

I only got to KOTOR 1/2 a few years ago and I thought they were...OK? They were both of them very console-specific in design, which required me to wrap my brain around an interface that doth not careth for my mouse, but otherwise, it wasn't too bad? At least it didn't feature infinite amounts of scrolling like I've read about in more modern games like Cyberpunk (and Skyrim pre- SkyUI).

Kreia was a great character in KOTOR 2. There was some great writing in that game. Thought the final level on Malachor V was very atmospheric. Haven't played it for a while though, not since going through it with the restored content mod. 

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KOTR and KOTR 2 were my first Bioware/Obsidian RPGs- I played them both way after they came out, in 2010 or so, and I loved them. KOTR 2 was rushed out the door, but I did play with the restored content mod and that did seem to make a difference. Kreia is a fantastic character.

Then after that I played all the more modern Bioware/Obsidian games and now I unfortunately can't go back to them. I've tried to replay KOTR 1 a few times, but the voice acting and animations have really not aged well, and I can't say I enjoy the combat. I would love a remake of both, followed by a third KOTOR game.

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The game is cheating. Twice in a row on Madden 19 I was playing my franchise in the Super Bowl. Twice I had a monster game with Mahomes. Twice I was ahead by a lot with less than ten seconds to go. And twice the game glitched because someone face masked me and the players started to celebrate before the game was over and it couldn't recalibrate it.

So I simulated the game and lost despite my team begin a 93 and my opponent was in the low 80's. 

Game fucking cheated. 

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5 hours ago, Jace, Basilissa said:

They haven't made a good Madden since Tecmo Super Bowl

Fixed that for you.

Edited by Rhom

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